In a world where we are encouraged to pursue our best selves side by side with loving the skin we’re in, we often get conflicting messages about the idea of losing weight. While some want to be like Hollywood stars that manage to look decades younger than they really are, others, wanting to “grow old gracefully,” are content to accept increasing limitations as part of growing older and see the pursuit of weight loss as vanity.However, for a large majority of people, losing weight and getting fitter is a great idea. Making the statement “I need to lose weight” is a great first start. “You are not your own,” Paul tells the Christians in Corinth. “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20).
We honor God with our bodies in how we treat them and the uses to which we put them. Taking care of your body by losing weight is a great way not only to get fit and be healthier but to make yourself more available to your loved ones, making it easier to get down and play with the kids and grandkids or run around with friends on the field or hiking trail.
But where do we go from here? Now that you’ve decided you want to lose weight and get healthier, what comes next?
Three Steps to Healthy Weight Loss
Here are three basic steps for healthy weight loss to get you going on your fitness journey: get help, plan well, and start small.
1. Get help
To begin with, it is important to consult your physician, a dietician, or contact a personal trainer. Why is this step important? It’s because you need to know your limits, what type of exercise you can do, and what will work best for you. For some, exercise like jogging will put too much strain on their joints, or certain stretches in yoga may exacerbate existing back problems.Alternatively, if you have a condition like diabetes, for example, you need to be careful what you put into and withhold from your body. So, it’s important to do this bit of self-inventory as you get started so that you get going with good information and set yourself up for success.
Additionally, part of getting help is finding partners to walk with you on this journey. There’s a Scripture which says “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the one who falls and has no one to help them up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Your journey towards weight loss and better health is beset with obstacles such as bad habits or negative thought patterns that need to be overcome. It is better to embark on this journey with someone else, that way, you can encourage one another and challenge each other when it gets hard.
Some fitness programs or communities have apps and closed social media groups to help you track your progress and share your journey with a community that is struggling with the same ups and downs.
2. Plan well
One important part of planning well is setting specific achievable and measurable goals. If you are vague about your aims, your results will be just as vague. If you aim for nothing, that’s what you’ll hit, and goals can be more than just numbers on a scale.
Aim for walking a certain distance without getting winded, for improvement in how many push-ups and crunches you can complete or how long you can hold a plank, for fitting into a certain item of clothing you love that has become too tight.
Additionally, reward yourself for achievements. For example, complete a month (or two or three) of consistently working out and reward yourself with a nice piece of workout gear. Lose a certain amount of weight and let yourself buy that new outfit. Stick to a healthy meal plan and reward yourself with a special dinner out. It’s a mind game in which you will need to give yourself positive feedback, so note all the victories.
Plan to succeed. One of the keys to that is consistency. We mentioned having measurable and specific goals; to achieve these, you need to be consistent with what you do. If your schedule is packed as you plan for success, set aside a few minutes before you start your day to get your exercise in. It’s no use setting aside an hour when you don’t have the time. Do what you can do.
The battle for success in healthy weight loss is fought on two fronts, and one of the fronts that is often ignored is in the kitchen and fridge. Exercise is necessary, but your body needs the right kind of fuel to keep it going. Your body needs good calories to fuel it and often the food we eat doesn’t have all the nutrients we need or it has too much of something else (usually sugar and bad fats).
Planning your meals is a great way to make sure your body is getting what it needs, and in the right quantities (did you know there’s a difference between good fat and bad fat, and that not all fats in food are equal?). Find a way to learn new habits in the kitchen that will set you up for success.
You’ll want to find a meal plan that isn’t too restrictive, and which won’t lead to binging and “falling off the wagon.” Instead, plan for treats that aren’t going to derail your progress. When going to the store, make a list and stick to it to avoid unhealthy impulse buys. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be boring; there are many delicious recipes to try if you look for them. Enjoy the journey.
This journey is an exciting one. Like any other journey, a bit of planning and strategy is needed. This will help you stay on course with your goals and encourage you as you achieve your milestones. And as with any other journey, there will be bumps and detours; but keep at it! Being healthy is great not only for your own well-being, but it spills over to the people in your life.
3. Start smallIt is important to start small when you begin this journey. Earlier we spoke about planning well and knowing what your schedule allows. If you can only manage a few minutes a day to get some exercise in, start small and make that 15 minutes a day into a habit. Doing controlled breathing exercises when you wake up and before you go to bed is an excellent way to start and end the day – to clear the decks and to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
For most people, walking is a low impact way to get their heart rate up, and swimming is another form of exercise that works out the whole body without stressing the joints. Starting small helps you to begin establishing healthy habits.
Sometimes people get discouraged on their journey because they set huge goals before they began developing the necessary habits to enable them to achieve them. Start small, gain consistency, then build upon that for bigger, more audacious goals.
The path to healthy weight loss and becoming more fit is not an impossible one. It begins with the determination to get it done and then taking a few steps towards that goal. Consult your physician or another professional who can guide you on your next steps.
Find and join a fitness group, You’ll hear great ideas from others about staying consistent and motivated, and you’ll also be kept accountable. Make a meal plan. Drink more water. Give your body the right nutrients in a balanced diet. Get to sleep earlier. Take one small step in the right direction. And then when you’ve mastered that, take another one.
“Measuring Tape”, Courtesy of Siora Photography, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Working Out”, Courtesy of Gursimrat Ganda, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Weigh-in”, Courtesy of i yunmai, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Mindfulness”, Courtesy of Lesly Juarez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License